2019 | Schools

School Board Seeks Partnerships To Provide Driver’s Ed Courses

Cost of classes seen as barrier to some students

The student member of the Montgomery County Board of Education wants the school district to pursue partnerships with driver’s education programs to make the courses more accessible to students.

In the mid-90s, MCPS offered driver’s education as a high school class, as part of its health curriculum. Schools had practice driving tracks and there were certified employees to teach the classes.

The courses were scrapped from MCPS curriculum. Students now can take the classes independently after school and on the weekends, or through private companies throughout the county.

Maryland law requires people younger than 18 to complete a driver’s education program before receiving a driver’s license. Local programs cost hundreds of dollars, which is a barrier for students from low-income families, student board member Nate Tinbite wrote in his proposal.

“Costs, convenience and competing academic priorities often act as barriers to teens who might otherwise become licensed drivers … and students are increasingly overwhelmed with academic and extracurricular activities and offering driver’s education at school sites would offer a convenient option for students,” Tinbite wrote.

He wrote that helping students obtain driver’s licenses would help students obtain part-time jobs and have access to “goods, services and experiences.”

Tinbite’s proposal directs MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith to explore opportunities to partner with local programs to “increase the availability and reduce the cost … specifically in communities impacted by poverty.” A report is due back to the school board in March.